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On Wednesday 14 October, while half the Outware Design team were at the AUS App Design Awards, the other half of us were hosting a UX Hack Night.

The aim of the evening was to teach Outwarians in non-UX and Design roles about the importance of usability testing and iterating on designs. All while consuming pizza, drinks and marshmallows (of course!).

Team Building and Failing Fast
We started off with a ‘Marshmallow’ challenge to get people working together as teams. This challenge involved trying to suspend a marshmallow as high as possible with spaghetti, masking tape and twine. Each team quickly realised that sometimes iterating on a design and failing fast is more successful than planning all your time on one design. It also helps if you’ve done the challenge before as the winning team captained by Jack taught us.

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Wireframing and Paper Prototyping
We then spent some time going over the foundations of wireframing, specifically how to create low fidelity paper prototypes. The teams headed off to their rooms with a bunch of stationery and spent 45 mins planning and building a prototype for a grocery shopping application.

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Usability Testing
When we reconvened, we went over what kind of techniques you can use to conduct simple usability testing sessions. From there each team picked a role (A facilitator, a note taker and a computer – who basically just moved the paper prototype when the user ‘tapped’ on things). One member of an opposing team was then selected as a ‘test participant’ and we ran 3 test sessions where everyone put their new skills into practice and ran some great (and very funny) usability tests.

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Highlights of the evening were:

  • Seeing everyone wait until the last minute to put their marshmallows on the top of their structures, and watching 4 of the 5 teams despair in the realisation that it didn’t work; priceless.
  • Tina the chattiest computer.
  • Pavel the computer with least amount of RAM.
  • For me watching everyone understanding the importance of testing was a big highlight – something that is obvious to the maker, wasn’t necessarily obvious to a user.

Big thanks to Rick and Claire for helping get everything set up and catered. Also thanks to Mario and Maya for helping me prepare for the night.

tags: hack nights

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